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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Parable of Zen – Seeking a Cure for Baldness

There was a bald man whose head felt very cold in winter. But in summer, he always got bitten by mosquitoes on the head and found it hard to get a good night’s sleep. He was very trouble by this problem, but there was nothing he could do about it.

One day he heard about a famous physician who cured many difficult diseases and solved many problems. He decided to consult him.

He traveled for days and finally met this famous physician. This Physician was dressed in very plain clothes and wearing a hat.

The bald man came up and said to the physician: “Doctor, please cure me of baldness.”

The physician looked at him and replied sadly: “If I had a cure for baldness, I would have cured myself first.” And he removed his hat and showed his own bald head.

The conclusion from the Zen master: Fellow sufferers of the same illness empathize with each other.

The conclusion from April after she read the parable: Famous people don’t always have answers.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Is It Too Late to Learn Chinese?

When the humorist Dave Barry went to Japan in the early 1990s, he attempted to learn the language by reading a paperback phrase book, Japanese at a Glance, on the flight over. "That is not the method recommended by experts," he wrote. "The method recommended by experts is to be born a Japanese baby and raised by a Japanese family, in Japan."

The language of the moment is Chinese, and the expert advice is depressingly similar.

Difficult--but not impossible. In some areas, such as vocabulary memorization, older students can actually outperform younger peers. "Adults shouldn't say 'I'm too old to learn,'" says Long. "All over the world, millions of people have become extremely good in a second language, even when they started in their 30s and 40s." You can't expect to soak up Chinese like a sponge, but you do have the ability to concentrate and to study for hours on end. Unfortunately, if you want to learn Chinese, that's what you'll need to do.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Learning Tips During Holiday

Have you ever packed your Mandarin Express books into your suitcase but didn’t read them? Have you taken your iPod loaded with audio lessons to the beach but didn’t listen to them? As the holiday season draws closer, many people will have a two week school break. They are determined to stay on the learning track during the break, only to find out that they haven’t done any studying at all.

The problem here is that they set their expectations too high. They think they can block an hour each day devoted to learning Chinese, but often find themselves involved in something else all the time. That’s where they fail. But often enough, after the holiday, they regret it. The worst is that they feel that they have forgotten everything. They felt they should have done at least a little bit of studying, if not a lot.

What can you do? Don’t even try to block one hour for learning. You’re not at school any more. Just dedicate a few minutes instead. It’s easier to spend a few minutes during your morning coffee than to try blocking one hour from everything else. Here is how you can do it.

There is no need to pack your students book and workbook. They are heavy and you won’t read them anyway. Instead, prepare a short vocabulary list which you think is important. For example, select a few key words from each lesson, and build a nice one- page vocabulary list containing about 30 – 50 words. During your holiday, use a few minutes during your breakfast to review these key words and try to recall what the lesson is about. You can have a quick mental review of one lesson during a cup of coffee.

Second, write a journal in Chinese or partially Chinese. Even the briefest journal will keep your Chinese active. Spend a few minutes and write some words, phrases about your daily activities or people you meet. This journal will not only help you learn Chinese, but also serve as a wonderful souvenir after your holiday.

Third, listen to your audio lessons while you’re sleeping. Some experts say that your brain continues to function and be more receptive when you’re sound asleep. And this is the best time to learn subconsciously. You may not realize it after you wake up, but your learning is already there.

Now armed with these wonderful learning tips, you’ll never “forget everything” during your holiday any more.